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Nearing 1000 miles!

Day 18: Hyatt House Philadelphia/Plymouth Meeting to Hyatt Place Wilmington (52.19 mi)

Downtown Philly

I decided to depart from the prescribed Adventure Cycling route so that I would be able to cycle a bit through Delaware. This ended up improving the riding in the morning, and I got to ride through Philadelphia instead of bypassing it entirely! The whole morning was a pleasant affair along the Schuylkill River through a variety of different river trails. The biggest difference with these trails were how crowded they were, a nice Sunday morning in a major metropolitan area means getting passed by a buttload of cyclists every minute--I'm not very fast with all my luggage! (let's be honest, I probably wouldn't be very fast without the bags either...). Despite the growing crowds, especially near downtown Philly, the riding was still faster than when I eventually had to start going through the city. Constant red lights is a real damper on progress! I'll be staying at a Hyatt (again!), luckily we have many points saved up so these stays are actually "free" (and would often be cheaper than camping many of the nights!).

Stumbled across a jazz festival in Wilmington!

It is also striking the rapid change in scenery between much of the rural country that I have been riding through compared to the densely populated urban core of Philadelphia. Perhaps nothing is more striking than the composition of people living in different communities. Institutional segregation is supposed to be a thing of the past, but it's curious that after so many generations, so many places I pass through are almost entirely white or entirely black (grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, and walking around on public roads). I suppose racial integration is just as difficult as desegregation. Anyways, I'm not really trying to make social commentary here, but it is probably the most jarring thing I've seen on my tour.

Day 19: Hyatt Place Wilmington to Craft Haven Campground & Marina (34.16 mi)

Welcome to Delaware!

I got off to a super late start today, it's honestly a lot harder to leave the hotel than a tent in the morning. Actually I don't even think it has anything to do with comfort, without the natural light that I get in a tent (and is blocked out by blackout curtains in the hotel), I suspect it's a lot easier for me to sleep in. Anyhow, all my positive trail riding experiences were balanced out today on many portions of freeway riding with little to no shoulder, as well as fast and continuous traffic. After lunch, I called and found out my primary campsite doesn't allow for tents (looking back, I honestly don't remember having this much trouble finding places to stay during my first tour) and so I ended up going with my backup. No issues but it actually cut my day short about 10 miles (there really aren't that many campsites along my route...), which is nice for today considering the late start but will mean some extra miles on the next day...

Day 20: Craft Haven Campground & Marina to Columbia (64 mi)

Thanks for coming to meet for lunch John!

Today was a tough day with 41 miles in the morning before lunchtime, so I ended up getting up fairly early and then setting a somewhat grueling pace to make it to Baltimore to meet a friend for lunch. Unfortunately, even in the wee hours of the morning, the temperature was already above 80 degrees and over 90% humidity. The riding was a straight shot on the 40 (freeway), and for the most part there were large shoulders but there were unfortunately several somewhat sketchy sections including a lengthy 1 mile bridge with no shoulder. After riding continuously for 4.5 hours, I made it to meet my friend John from grad school and we had a great Mexican/Korean/Italian meal at his friend's place. It was very nice to spend some time chatting and being able to cool down from the heat for about 2 hours before I headed out again.

Missing those late night chess sessions...

This afternoon was substantially more brutal than the morning. Even though there were only 24 miles left, temperatures reached over 95 degrees and the remaining route was extremely hilly. These two factors don't mix well together. I definitely struggled in the heat: I ended up having a pretty bad headache and had to stop much more often to cool down--even resorting to buying some ice from a gas station (they had no soda machine!). In the end, I reached my high school friend Chang's place in Columbia, Maryland where I was finally able to cool down for the day. Fun fact, Chang has now met me on 3 different tours, in 3 different states!

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